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"Love's Sweet Dawn"

Depicted here is the title page to "Love's Sweet Dawn" (note initials), the earliest song-poem yet discovered. Written "song and refrain" by Amelia Baker and published by Success Music Co., it was entered for copyright on January 7, 1901.

We will admit to a bit of a deception in our presentation, however. Despite the rubber stamp noting a reception date of February 4, the title page shown here wasn't actually received until April 13. As was common practice back then, "LSD" was submitted for copyright twice, first in its pre-publication manuscript form on February 4 and then again when the printed, available-for-sale version was finally published on April 13. We felt it was that latter, more illustrative version that you'd rather see, yet for the sake of historical impact we wanted the earlier date represented. Thus, we composited the earlier date stamp and the later title page to create the version below.

But neither February 4 nor April 13 are the salient dates for "LSD," as they represent only dates of deposit, not dates of copyright. In those days, a copyright form would often be submitted in advance of the actual work being copyrighted, with the entry left open until the work arrives. Thus, both the handwritten and the printed versions of "LSD" were associated with the original entry date of January 7, which is considered the true copyright date.

Success, from Chicago, was the first major song-poem company; whomever was behind them may very well have invented the form. By standards of quantity, at least, the stacks of Library of Congress sheet music holdings for the early years of the 1900s are dominated by Success songs. As is usually the case with song-poem music, most of them are dreary, some are amusingly silly, but dedicated digging will reveal the rare glistening jewel. The most striking example from the Success music sheets is "Wyoming Song," from 1906, the cover illustration of which is one of the abiding mysteries of song-poemdom.

Starting in the 1910s Success began facing much stiffer competition, primarily from H. Kirkus Dugdale of Washington as well as several New York firms, and their stranglehold over the industry was broken. Still, they hung in there, most likely under different ownership (possibly the Richard Brothers), until shut down in 1946 under a consent decree with the postal authorities.

All design and uncredited content of this website ©2004 Phil Milstein